Uses of Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol is the trade name for pine bark extract obtained from Pinus pinaster, the French maritime pine tree. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center states that pine bark extract exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as immunostimulant effects, making it beneficial for a variety of health conditions. After extensive study, pine bark extract is considered generally safe and tolerable and poses a low risk of serious side effects, according to the Stanford School of Medicine.

benefits of pine bark extract

Studies show that pine bark extract has antioxidant properties, according to the American Cancer Society, which may make the supplement useful in preventing and treating cancer. Antioxidants block the action of harmful free radicals in the body. The antioxidant properties of Pycnogenol may also improve blood vessel health, thereby helping with hypertension, diabetic retinopathy, endothelial dysfunction and chronic venous insufficiency, a syndrome associated with edema, pain, itching, varicose veins, and skin ulcers. The University of California Berkley states that Pycnogenol prolongs the life of vitamin C inside the body, which adds to its beneficial effects against free radicals.

The National Institutes of Health states that good evidence exists for the use of Pycnogenol in the treatment of both adult and childhood asthma. The extract's anti-inflammatory properties may also be beneficial for arthritis, sunburn, inflammation associated with injuries, prostate inflammation, systemic lupus erythematosus and allergic reactions. In fact, a study published in the April 2008 issue of the "Journal of Phytotherapy Research" showed that Pycnogenol improved the symptoms of osteoarthritis by 56 percent, and reduced pain as well as traditional anti-inflammatory medications.

Pine bark extract appears to have both antibacterial and antiviral properties, and may improve the function of the immune system. According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Pycnogenol may inhibit replication and attachment of the HIV virus, suppress replication of the virus that causes encephalomyocarditis, and impair the growth and adherence of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium commonly responsible for digestive illness.

Other Uses
According to the results of a study at Ham-Ming Hospital, Taiwan, which appear in the "Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica" 2007, Pycnogenol may be useful for relieving symptoms associated with menopause and premenstrual syndrome. Also, chewing gum and using toothpaste that contains pine bark extract may reduce plaque build-up and gingival bleeding. Additionally, the extract may also help enhance memory in the elderly and improve the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Moreover, Pycnogenol may significantly improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction when used along with L-arginine, according to a 2003 study published in the "Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy."

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